Friday, December 5, 2008

Coffee in Winter

     Today's post comes to you from the Grand Traverse Pie Company in Muskegon, MI. I'm sitting on a stool looking out one of their wall-sized windows, watching the snow fall. Today's snow is the light and fluffy variety. It's the kind that gently falls to the earth, unlike the sleet that crashes down as quickly as possible. :)

     Sleet comes down the way that I ski. I like to downhill ski. Once I took lessons on how to ski, and it turns out there is more to it than just pointing the skis down the hill and staying on your feet. You have to learn how to move back and forth, and stay in control. Yet, to this day I still prefer to get to the top of the hill, point the tips straight down the hill and move as quickly as possible to the bottom of the slope.

     I love the speed of downhill skiing. In fact, I'm a pretty big fan of speed in general. I think it would be awesome to travel somewhere with no speed limits just to see how fast my car can go and what it feels like. Darn speed limits.

     The snow is letting up now. The store is fairly busy. The coffee is still good - getting a little colder though.

     Trying to find the motivation to get to work. I like what I do, but it doesn't get me out of bed in the morning. I desire to be one of those people who is passionate about their work. I don't know if that requires a change in me or a change in my work. I'm certainly passionate about some things. I'm becoming more passionate about communicating. I work for a "Communications" company, but honestly, they are not the best at communicating in the sense that I'm passionate about.

     I'm passionate about quality video. I'm passionate about training people. I've gotten to train people before, and I think my passion shows through, and makes me a better teacher. See, I'm kinda addicted to information. When I'm assigned something new, I want to learn everything I can about it. The thorough knowledge I gain puts me in a position to help people. I help people understand the thing I'm good at. It could be a product, or service, or compay, or idea.
     Here's an example: last night our dryer broke. Actually, I suppose you could say I broke the dryer. I was cleaning the inside of it after a red pen found its un-timely demise in the last load of laundry. I was turning the drum by hand and something snapped inside. Now, I like to fix things like that myself. They have a system, and I believe that the average consumer should be able to understand and fix their own appliances.

     Long story short, I found the problem - the belt had slipped of the motor. BUT there is a piece laying in the bottom that is not attached to anything. I don't immediately know where it goes and I can't figure it out. I'll look up a manual online today to figure it out and get it fixed. But I don't just stop at fixing the problem. My mind is constantly absorbing extra information while the dryer is apart. I'm looking at the felt the drum rides on. I'm noticing the setup and positioning of the heating element. I noted how many btu's the gas burner was, and how it was shielded. I even looked at the extra holes in the chassis - how one body could be used for several models by reconfiguring where the panels are bolted.

     Some of this information will come in handy later and some will not. I take it all in because I enjoy it though. I want to be able to understand and visualize it when a friend has a question with their dryer. I'm not going to hang a dryer repair sign outside my house, but it's handy to know. It's my nature.

     Not sure if there is a point to all of this :) Maybe it will encourage you to evaluate what you are passionate about. Maybe it just helps you to get a better idea of what makes me tick (scary thought) ;). Maybe it's just the ramblings of a young man in a coffee shop on a winter's day.

     It's snowing again. Time to warm up the coffee. Then, my journey begins.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busy Winter

Wow! Things are busy in my neck of the woods! Can't you tell by the crazy heavy amount of posts? :D

But seriously, things have been getting busy. This week I have plans 4 out of 5 weeknights, I'm getting up early 2 out of 5 workdays, and the weekend is filling up pretty well too. Of course, if i didn't have things to do, I'd find plenty to do around home, some stuff that I need to do and a lot of stuff that I would just want to do :). That's ok, busy can be good. Importantly though, busy is good as long as there is a defined time of rest, and over the last 6-12 months, I've become MUCH better about taking a time each week exclusively for the purpose of rest.

It makes a huge difference to rest. Rest is different for each person. Some need to sleep, some need to lay in a hammock, some need to do a project they've been meaning to. yes, physical activity can be rest for some. I often fall into that category. Sometimes we run so much that just setting aside time to work on a rpoject I've been meaning to complete is EXTREMELY restful. In addition, when I get the project done, it no longer hangs over my head as something needing to be done, and thus, rest continues on through the week. Instead of being concerned over something needing to be done, but not having time for it, I can rest in the fact that it is done.

Well, I certainly don't intend to be long-winded on this post, so I'll end right after the following tidbit:

The parking lot to my office at 7:58am:

The parking lot to my office at 8:11am:

Winter is wonderful, isn't it?

P.s. - in all due respect, I'm usually in the 8:15a group. Thanks Brett!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Election 2008 - McCain vs. Obama

Photo Courtesy Dean Terry

Anyone else tired of the election yet? I'm very excited that we only have one week left! Twitter has been almost unbearable some days, especially if a debate is on.

I know who I'm voting for, but it hasn't come easily. I've had to do a lot of thinking, and consider both sides. I know that there is a clear choice for me now, but if my guy doesn't win, it'll be interesting to watch how it turns out.

I live in an economically depressed town, and that tends to sway voters a certain direction. They're looking in the wrong direction. And those who are looking at the other candidate, they're looking in the wrong direction too.

There's nothing wrong with voting. We live in a democratic society, and if we have the ability to influence who is elected to the highest office, we should partake in that liberty. But they all tell us what we want to hear. they'll all make promises they can't keep. Compromises will be made, and we won't even anticipate what's coming in the next four years. Either way, we can't look to the president to save us.

Vote for who you think the best candidate is, and then look to the only source of hope.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Did you really answer the question?

I was listening to a radio ad for a university today. They asked "If you could do something to make your life better right now, would you?" And then they launched into a sales pitch for their university ("call the university today to sign up for fall classes, we have...<insert college fare>..."). Then they finished up with a call-to-action something like "call today and register".

There is something very subtle in that commercial. They begin by asking a question, and then go directly into telling us about their product. Problem is, they never really say that their product is the answer to the question. It's like this:

Commercial: "Would you like to know how to bake cookies?"

Me: "Heck yeah! I likes me some cookies!"

Commercial: "OK! We teach math lessons better than anyone else. Call us today for more information!"

Me: "Wha?"

In my example, the business has a great service, and many people could benefit from math lessons. But math lessons don't answer the question "Would you like to know how to bake cookies", nor do they provide a solution if you DO want to know how to bake cookies.

That brings up another point with asking a question at the beginning of a commercial - like what if the answer is not as you anticipated it? Of course it is assumed that a reasonable person would want to make their life better. If a person will do anything to make that happen is the real question. But the purpose of this post is to point out that they don't tie it all together. If you're going to ask me if I want to know how to make cookies, you'd better explain to me how you can help me know how to make cookies.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

What is Twitter? Why would I do it?

I know many of you are tech-savvy and already know about Twitter. Some of you use it and love it :). But if you don't know, check out this website. It is a discussion from an NPR show where the guest does a much better job explaining it than I could. It's about 5 minutes long, but a very easy listen.

If you're interested enough to sign up, follow me at once you are signed up!

Side note: Have you ever tried to explain Twitter to someone? How have you done it? Did they "get it"?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I like to ride my bike around town. Unfortunately that's not a year-round activity in Michigan. Though I can say that as a kid I would ride my bike occasionally in the winter. That was fun when you hit ice!

I was trying to figure out recently why I like bike riding so much. A few things came to mind:

  • Health benefits - Ok, this one is obvious, but it should be included.
  • No barriers between you and the world. When you're in a car, you have metal and glass separating you from everything else. It encapsulates you. When you're on a bike, you contain the bike in a sense between your legs. That leaves the rest of your body closer to, well, everything else.
  • Freedom - you can access more places on a bike than you can in a car. I've found sidewalks and paths in the middle of the city I never knew about.
  • Photography - I'm not a professional photographer or anything, but I do like taking pictures on occasion. There have been many time where I'll see something driving along, and not be able to capture it because I couldn't get to the camera, or I couldn't stop the car. But if you're on a bike, it's much easier to safely stop somewhere and get all the pictures you want!
I think it also slows me down, and creates opportunity to clear my head and even have some conversation with my wife and kids. It is a choice I make to step away from all of the screens in my house (TV, Computer, PDA (still working on turning the cell phone off)) and take in some of the natural beauty of the world.

Anyone else have a love of biking or walking or running?Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's been forever...

...or at least it feels like it. In fact, it's been so long that my preferred blogging tool, Scribefire, has updated two or three times since I last used it. I like some of the new features, but if you're not into Firefox and Scribefire you probably don't care ;) And if you do use them....well, you probably already know about them.

Work continues to be a struggle for me, but I continue to make it through. I've been with this company for almost three years now, and I rarely take vacation (partially as a security measure) so I decided to take some. Last weekend I took two extra days off and went to my in-laws' cabin in Northern Michigan. We had a GREAT time, and I was able to relax and reset myself. We didn't have many plans, so we could take our time and just rest. We ended up going rafting one day, and kayaking the next, which was a LOT of fun! I'd love to get some kayaks for us, but they're expensive! Even Brooke is able to paddle her own all by herself, and I was surprised! I mean, she's 6 years old! Yikes!

We're still fighting debt, and we're down to our last non-mortgage debt. We've lost a little steam lately because it's summer, and there are so many things to do. Kinda makes us wish we had more money to do more fun things. But then again, that's why we're getting out of debt. We've got to remember how much more fun we could have if we didn't have a $200 car payment! We're hopeful we'll be out by the end of summer, but that is fast approaching, and I think we might not hit it. We really need to engage the debt snowball more, and start using the money we've freed up from other debts to attack the car.

When we were in Cadillac this weekend, we decided we wanted to go to a church up there. Not having any personal recommendations, we cracked open the phone book and found a page and a half of listings for churches! The bummer part is that our fellowship doesn't have a gathering up there, so we kinda had to guess based on names. We really just wanted a church that was Bible-based and sound. We ended up choosing Independent Bible Church. I couldn't find anything out about them on the web except their service times, but we tried them anyway.

When we got there, everyone was very friendly, and wanted to introduce themselves. That was very welcoming. the church reminded us exactly the churches we grew up in. Traditional brown brick building, conservative service, pews, hymns, the whole deal. But it also seemed like the speaker (not sure if he was an Elder or Deacon or just a member, but the Pastor was on vacation) wanted to help them be more relevant. he used a laptop with a projector, and had a nice slideshow for song lyrics, and even a PowerPoint to go along with his study.

The problem was, it was like putting a video arcade in a nursing home. Something just doesn't fit. I think they may be on the right path, but the reality is that a large part of the congregation was older, and probably likes to worship the same way they've worshiped for many years. is there anything wrong with that? No. Is there anything wrong with wanting to change to be more relevant to the community and a new generation? If it's led by God, then no. The point is that those two groups just may not be the best to have in the same service. There is nothing wrong with having a traditional service and a contemporary service. In fact, in many ways it's better. The form of worship is of much less importance than the object of worship and the quality of teaching.

As far as the teaching goes - it was solidly grounded in the Bible. It was a good message, and the teacher went verse by verse through one passage. While it wasn't particularly invigorating, it was sound, and we could appreciate that. It goes to show how God can change your heart when you can listen to a less-than-invigorating teacher and not fall asleep ;).

All-in-all, we miss our church, and look forward to being back there this week. We especially miss the people there. The ones who know us and support us and have invested their time with us. It's like a sweet aroma.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Work, Twitter,

Well, I still have a job. I thank the Lord, and I also wonder why I'm still where I am.

In a way, I was thinking that God was using this reorganization to move me, because I wouldn't move otherwise. I have complete faith that He works all things together for good, but I just don't see how. I don't know why I'm still where I am. I do know I'm here for a reason. I also know I'm looking at other job opportunities.

A couple of good things have come from the whole experience. It's made me question if this is really what I should be doing. My wonderful wife bought me a book I've been wanting for my birthday. 48 Days to the Work You Love is a book by Dan Miller, and highly recommended by Dave Ramsey. I figure that Dave has really good financial advice, so his recommend on career advice may hold water :). The book asks lots of good questions, and asks me to look at what I like to do, and if what I'm doing fits that.

There is a lot more to blog about on that subject, and I'm considering airing out the answers to many of those questions on my own blog like Mindy. Could be fun ;)

In other news, I've been Twittering a lot lately. In fact, I blame that in part for my short-term disappearance from blogging. Ultimately though, Twitter is not a replacement for my blog, as fun as it may be. Why do I Twitter? Well, it's kind of like a chat room where no one expects you to respond instantly, and you can invite anyone to join your chat room that you want to. What you end up with is a place where you can find out a lot of interesting thoughts from people very easily. Of course, it's good to contribute too, so others can learn little tidbits about you too.

If you follow my Twitter Feed or follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I recently broke my unbreakable glasses. Yeaa, you know the kind that are so flexible that you can bend them around your finger? Those are the ones that snapped in half two weeks ago. Fortunately I was fitted for contacts last year and I have some left over, even though I don't wear them. So I've been wearing them for a couple weeks now until I order another pair of glasses. They work pretty well, and after I got used to looking in the mirror and not seeing glasses on my face, it was ok :).

The only disadvantage to the contacts is that they don't work quite as well as glasses. I have a slight astigmatism that the contacts can't correct. End result is that my vision is slightly fuzzier when I wear my contacts. The phenomenon that occurs is that I've been feeling fuzzy lately. Not fuzzy like a Muppet, but lacking in clarity. everyday actions have felt cloudy. Anyone else ever had this happen? Fuzzy vision = Fuzzy mental state? I'm adjusting after two weeks of contacts, but still feel it once in a while. It kind of makes me wonder, as I have before, did God make me nearsighted for a reason? Maybe I'm supposed to pay attention to small, close-up details.

Anywho, that's what's fit to print :) Talk to you later.

Friday, May 2, 2008


I've been on pins and needles in a way the last two weeks. Two weeks ago, I came into work at my office. I normally only come to the office when I need to, and travel around my area the rest of the time, but that day I came in. I had just received my pay stub online the night before, and it wasn't quite right. See, I was supposed to get a yearly raise, and judging by my review it should have been the same as last year's raise. When I opened my pay stub, I found out it was much less.

So I decided that I was going to talk to my boss about it. In fact, my boss is new at the company, so I was going to talk to HIS boss about it. However, that was thwarted...when my boss's boss was "let go" that morning. Human Relations from a higher office came in, and explained the situation to everyone. My boss and one of his coworkers were let go as well. The real problem though, is that when HR told everyone, they all but said "there'll be more in a couple weeks".

Which leads us to today. No one really knows when the axe is coming, but we know that more people will be let go, and we don't know when or who. Of course this creates a PERFECT breeding ground for rumours. I hate rumours. All they do is reduce productivity and raise stress in this environment. Seriously, every time I would relax and settle into my work, someone would bring up one of these rumours and I'd tense up again, and lose all focus and desire to work.

I'm not sure how I feel about the whole situation. My job is the one that provides the vast majority of our family income, so it is necessary that I work, and this job provides a very steady paycheck. On the other hand, I've had 4 bosses over the past year, so my department has not had much real leadership lately. The lack of leadership has made me question how much I really like this job. But honestly, I have really liked this job over the last couple of years. So I have a hard time telling if I'd really be happy in this job should I be allowed to keep it, or if I should move on (one way or another!).

So on one hand I'm excited to see what will happen. On the other hand, I'm scared because I don't know.

I do keep resting in the knowledge that God works all things together for good. He knows my needs, and He knows the needs of my family. It is AWESOME to be able to put faith in what He is doing. I know that I'm not here on my own. I know that the birds of the sky don't work, but they eat. I know that the fields don't work, but they are clothed. I know that God created me to work, and cares for us more than the birds and the fields. I know that He won't leave me or forsake me. Sometimes I just have to get my heart to know all of that, and to rest in Him.

One thing to think on though. If you believe what the Bible says, and you believe that Jesus is who He said He was. If you believe that Jesus is God's son, who became a man, and died on the cross for us, and rose from the dead. If you believe that, then you have to realize how great the cost was to save us all. And He did die to save us ALL, even those who deny Him and haven't yet asked for forgiveness and put their trust in Him. All you have to do is ask.

The point is though, if God paid so great a cost for ME and for YOU, do you really think that He would give up on us? Do I really think He would give up on me? No. He won't leave us or forsake us. The price was too great to do that. I'm going to learn to trust in Him more, and not in my job, and not in a paycheck. Jobs and people and money come and go. He stays.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Too Long

I once read that if you want your blog to be widely read, you should publish at least twice a week. Hmmm, guess I don't really want to be widely read.

So today was interesting. I got to spend some good quality time with my wife and kids. We watched "Brother Bear" tonight, which was fun because I haven't sat down and watched a whole movie in quite a while. Now I'm watching a rerun of House (waiting for the new episodes to start!) and waiting for the dryer to get done drying our sheets.

Other than that, I'm enjoying the weather. It's finally warming up here in Michigan, and it's GREAT! Today my father-in-law came over with his truck after work and pulled out a bush from the front of our house that we really didn't like. I mean, we've only disliked it for the 3 and 1/2 years we've lived it was about time. Now we just have decide what to replace it with. Maybe I should post some pics and get your advice? I just might do that.

I'm looking forward to having campfires and grilling out for friends, so make sure you set aside a couple of weekends to come over ;)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Sometimes our own protection can get in our way. I won't be launching into a tremendous rant on the authority of government or Homeland Security or police protection in our lives tonight though. I'll start with something much simpler.

A while back, I started to protect my network with a service called OpenDns. Their site is at They provide free protection to your home network by re-routing your internet requests through their servers. If there is content you don't want to come through, they'll block it. The nice part for me is that I can set up my router to use the service, and it automatically protects all computers accessing the internet through it. This is especially helpful if I have guests over.

The service allows you to block different categories of websites from coming through - like gambling, pornography, or even online dating or game sites. The only problem is, sometimes it can be a bit too restrictive. For instance, Flickr has been categorized with the "nudity" flag. That mean that I can't access my pastor's pics on my network, even though they are FAR from pornographic.

Fortunately, the site lets you customize things down to the tee, so I can add Flickr to my "safe" list and even block out other sites I don't like that aren't automatically blocked. The point is, has protection ever gotten in your way?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Follow-up on life

Today was a day of good news. I'll start with the car. Last night I rented a tow dolly and drove to the town where I left my car Tuesday. My father-in-law has a truck, so that's what we used, and he rode with us. When we got the car on the dolly, he looked underneath it and asked me to recreate the noise. Then he told me to turn off the car and came out from under it with a smile. It turns out it wasn't the transmission at all, it was a broken axle!

That was actually good news, because I was bracing for an $800-$1,000 transmission, and instead had to get a $125 axle! Woo-Hoo! So we dropped the car off at the shop last night, and they fixed it before 1pm today. Excellent service.

On top of that, my wife has just completed a training course to become a CNA (Certified Nurse's Aide). She was hoping to work in a hospital, but they are hard to get in to, so most people end up starting at nursing homes. BUT, my dad works at a hospital, and knew the lady who did some hiring. He got her an interview this morning. She starts Monday! I think we both hoped she would be offered a job on the spot, but neither of us expected it at all!!!!!

On top of THAT, we got a payment for some mystery shops I did about a month ago, AND we received our church leadership kit for Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University today :). We're REALLY excited to go through the course, and bring it to our church.

It was an all-around good day :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life and other foibles

Things have been interesting lately for me. I turn to my blog for it's original concept: a log on the web.

Yesterday I was tasked with training a new contracted employee at work. This required that we drive around to different sites, and he watch what I do, and ask questions. We had 6 sites on our plate, and everything was going pretty well...until....

We got to the fifth site, and as I drove down the street immediately preceding the site, I noticed a little noise, and a strange "feel" in the steering of my car. When I turned into the parking lot, the car made a very bad sound. Ever ride a roller-coaster run by a chain? It has that kind of "clink-clink-clink" sound as you approach the top of the hill? That's what my car sounded like. Oi.

The car is a 1999, so it isn't all that old, and it only has 130,000 miles on it. And I had the transmission replaced last year. But I think it's something in the transmission making that noise, and I don't like it.

Needless to say, I was somewhat embarrassed. Here I am training someone who works for me, and my car has a fairly significant failure out of the blue. Bummer. He got a ride home from his brother who lived in the area, and I had a couple great friends make the hour-long drive to pick me up. Oh yeah, I forgot to say I was an hour from home when this happened. So my car spent the night there, and I have to figure out how to get it home today, and what shop it is going to when it gets here.

This post is more for me than you I suppose. It helps me to lay everything out and organize it mentally. Last night when I got home I could barely function. It just kind of hit me with a disappointment about the whole thing. What a silly thing to be down about. It's just a car. I'll be able to get it fixed, and it will be back on the road soon. Maybe it was just one more thing at the end of a long day for me. So while I didn't have the energy or motivation to even respond to emails or check the updates in my Google Reader, I was able to clean our family room, which was long overdue.

Do you ever notice that when things are stressful, sometimes the simple things are the best things you can do? Sometimes you just need to be able to clean, or read a book, or relax in a hammock. It gives you that small sense of control over your surroundings I think. It lets you know you can handle something at that moment, even though it isn't the big problem. Sometimes cleaning (or reading or mowing the lawn, or, or, or...) can be therapeutic. Just those simple actions.

It actually makes me slow down just a bit, and maybe that's why I'm going through this.I know things will get better, and the car will get fixed, and I'll move beyond this moment (after all, it came to pass). I just pray that I learn what I am meant to learn through this, and that I don't miss the message. I'm truly blessed to have my wife, and good friends to help me out in times like this though.

What the heck is a foible anyway? It just sounded right.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Warning: Rant Approaching

Howdy everyone. Sorry for the hiatus from blogging lately. Life happens. It's been tough lately just to keep up with reading the blogs I follow in my Google Reader, let alone actually contributing to the social blogosphere!

What gets me going today (aside from actually having an hour or so to be at the computer) is an article in my reader. The blog post that got me going was one that has been sitting unread for a while. I quickly read it once and then decided to "keep as new" so I would go back and actually comment on it.

The blog points to an article on CNN's Right on Your Money series that talks about student loans. It mentions way to "handle" your student loan debt. One of the methods is to extend your debt to up to 30 years, in order to pay it back.


Why in the world would you want to extend your student loan debt to 30 YEARS on purpose!? As Dave Ramsey would say, "You're keeping that thing around like it's a dang PET!" Seriously, are you kidding me?

The article says that you many need to extend it if you are in a hardship, or if you are in a career that doesn't pay very well. Ok, I understand a hardship. They happen and they are unfortunate, but because you don't make much money in your post-college career? They give you 10 years on a standard loan (as I understand it) to repay it. The article says the average graduate takes $21,000 in student loan debt with them across the stage to get their diploma. If you have 21K in debt to get a job that pays 30 grand, well that would be a BAD DEAL! But even on 30 grand you could pay that off in 10 years. Just 10% of your income would do that.

Oh....but wait. I didn't figure in some pretty important numbers into this equation. I mean, if you've just graduated and landed this awesome job, you're going to need a car. And heck, you've earned it by going through all of this schooling, so why not go get something nice. You can afford a couple hundred bucks a month, right? And you have to look good to your new co-workers.

And I forgot. You'll probably have to spend a bunch of money on clothes. You have to look good at the office. If you don't have a really nice handbag (ladies) or some great suits (guys), they probably won't think the same of you. That has to be factored in.

And lest I forget, we'll also throw in some money for eating out at lunch during the week, beers after work with co-workers, some new furniture for the possibility of having people over, and other things I might have forgotten.

Here's an idea: let's not try to attain or parents' lifestyle right out of college. Let's not try to make appearances to impress people who are either A:) well-established in the company and their careers, and have been where we are before or B:)are swimming in debt themselves trying to keep up with everyone else. Let's not be NORMAL. Normal is in debt. Normal has a spare room for Sally-Mae and Murphy to move in to. NORMAL is BROKE!

My wife and I got a pretty decent tax refund back. I withheld too much, and we got credits for having kids and my wife going to school. I would have LOVED to use that money on stuff. I could have easily purchased several new technology items, and she could have gotten some new kitchen gadgets (including a Kitchenaid mixer she has been wanting for a long time). We could have gone on vacation this summer and had fun with more stuff we bought. But that would defeat us in the end. We're trying to get out of debt. If I would have spent $1,000 on a new HD Camcorder, that would be $1,000 less to use to pay off the credit card. The credit card was carrying a balance of $1,100. That's a thousand bucks of STUFF that we already bought!

I know this is a crazy idea, because I wasn't thrilled about it myself. But we finally PAID for $1,100 worth of stuff we ALREADY OWN! We are finally free from the shackles of VISA!! After three or four years, we finally have paid off our credit card! It feels great! We even had extra to put on our mattress. Yes, we took out a loan on our BED. We borrowed against the thing we sleep on every night. Now we own over half of our bed. I'm nice, so I claim it's my wife's half :). I bet she sleeps better on her paid-for half :P

The point is (yes, I guess I'll finally get off the soapbox and make a point) that we have money BACKWARDS in our society. How many times have you bought something in cash (or debit card or check) that you didn't need while you carried debt? Don't we realize that one day we actually have to pay for those things we borrowed money to get? How many of you know someone who has died owing money? Do we really want to owe for the rest of our lives? Do we want to take this to the grave with us? I know we think that will never happen. "We'll pay it off" yeah, yeah, I'm sure. Then something happens. We want something new. Something breaks and needs replacing.

I will not go to the grave owing money. This nation NEEDS to get their finances under control, and quick. We can NOT continue living like this. It's starting with me and others who are finally sitting down and changing things. People who are FED UP with debt. People who want to change their family trees. People who will seriously change the world.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Ahh work. Thank God I have a job, but sometimes it gets on my nerves :P

Then again, I'm so dedicated to the company that I'll probably be working this afternoon, even though I technically have it off. The boundaries of work and home time blur significantly when you are a salaried employee.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tax man cometh - economic stimulus

A friend over at Griddle Bandits put together a great little post about the economic stimulus plan. It's a good read to help dis-spell some confusion over the issue.

For a more in depth look at exactly what you'll get, look at this Blog post from another person on my "to read regularly" section in Google Reader.

Update: I read a little further into Mindy's article and looked at the IRS website link she had there.
This link shows how the package will work for a married couple with children, and covers a lot of different situations. For instance, I had heard that if you did not pay taxes into the system (didn't have ANY tax liability), as a married couple you would only get $600 instead of $1,200. Well it turns out that that is correct. However, if you had SOME tax liability BEFORE child tax credits, you will get that amount back up to $1,200. Anyway, look at the link and find out all you wanted to know! :)
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One Thing you can't do in Michigan in February

A good friend of mine and his wife (also a great friend) told me once or twice about a book called One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven.

Well, as a spin-off on that, here's a short list of things you can't do in Michigan in Febraury:

  • Have a barbecue
  • Cut your grass
  • Go to the Water Park
  • Go fishing from a boat
  • Go Para-sailing, water-skiing, or feel the sand between your toes at the beach (it's frozen solid)
That's right, it is nearly impossible to buy a snow shovel in Michigan in FEBRUARY!

Last week, my car was stuck. When I say stuck, I mean STUCK.

Oh, by the way, it was stuck in the driveway. I tried to get it out for an hour and was unsuccessful. I was successful, however, in breaking my snow shovel. That initiated my search for a new snow shovel. I was willing to pay 20 or 30 bucks just to get a good one with a metal edge.

Checked Sam's Club - Nope.
Checked Wal-Mart - yes, but only one, and it was really really cheap and flimsy. Not good at all for a foot of packed-down snow.
Checked Lowes - Nope.
Checked K-Mart - Nope.


So finally I got one. Good ol' Meijer came through for me. Thank goodness for a Michigan-based company who has the brains to look outside and see that there just MIGHT be a need for snow shovels in February. And, as a bonus, they are on clearance for 50% off!

I can finally get into my driveway again, after about an hour and a half of shoveling last night. Not fun. At least I got to enjoy the snow over the weekend on Snowmobiles at my in-laws :) I just had to pay for it last night, lol.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Work and other necessary things

Well it's "high-ho, High-ho, and off to work I go". Some would say "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go", but this post isn't about personal finance. At least not directly.

Last week was kind of a fun week for me at work. We has our annual Christmas Party on Saturday (yes, that's a Christmas Party on February 2nd) and I assigned myself to help put together the company slideshow. I say I assigned myself, because last year I had an awesome friend head up the project and do a GREAT job on it. I helped a little, but she really put in all the hard work for it. Well, she left the company to become a mommy (and doesn't look back!) so I tried to pick up the ball and run with it. I recruited a couple of friends at work and we locked ourselves in a room all of last week composing the slideshow.

Sometimes my wife can't believe I get paid for this stuff.

But it really wasn't a walk in the park, and took all week, plus a few nights, plus most of Saturday to finish it. In the end, it turned out pretty good, and I think everyone enjoyed it.

The not-so-much-fun part is going back to the normal routine this week. While it's not horrible, it definitely doesn't engage my creative side as much as last week did. But in every job, and in most of life, we have to have peaks and valleys. And sometimes, vast flatlands. Lol! anyway, my adorable son is stacking up blocks so he can have the privilege of knocking them down. Looks like fun. I'm going to join him :D

Monday, January 28, 2008

Abortion on the Decline

I was reading another blog and the article was worth repeating - so I mention it here. Synopsis is that Abortion as of 2005 was the lowest it has been since 1974! That is a great thing! I wish we had newer data, but this is a positive thing, and I'm glad the New York Times ran an article on it.

In the end, I hope that abortion rates continue to go down. There are alternatives, and it is a very scary thing for some women to have to go through. The author of the blog I mentioned talks about how she approaches talking about the issue. I think it's a good read, for those interested.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dave Ramsey Grand Rapids Recap

I just got home from attending the largest event on personal finance in the U.S.

It was VERY cool! I was at Dave Ramsey's "Total Money Makeover Live" Event. Dave taught for about 3 hours on his baby steps and stories and methods of getting out of debt and building wealth. There were at least 9,000 people there, but more likely over 10,000 (I'll find out the numbers soon).

What I like about Dave, is that he is a teacher. He wants to help people, and make sure they understand what he's saying. And his principles are not rocket science. He isn't here to make you "get rich quick". Instead, he wants to teach you how to spend, save, and give your money the right way. I seriously recommend that anyone with money questions or problems check him out. His website is and he has a radio show and a TV show where all he does is help people with their money questions.

I can't say in this informal medium of the internet how much following the principles he teaches has changed my life, and the life of our family after only a few months. You have to listen to him, and the change in peoples' lives after they do some of this stuff! I personally think finding his program was blessing. So if you've heard about the crazy guy who cuts up credit cards, pays off debt, and tells you to sell the car with the $400 payment, but you've never checked him out, maybe now is the time!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Church Family Rocks!

I just gotta say that my church family at Calvary Chapel on the Lakeshore is awesome!

My wife had her Gallbladder removed last Friday. We had done a sufficient job of keeping it under wraps until the Sunday prior. It was a laproscopic surgery, and everything went smoothly, and we aren't the kind of people to create a fuss over ourselves. Nonetheless, our church STILL wanted to make sure we were ok. So they decided to feed us. For the last three nights, a different family has stopped by each night with dinner for our family. We would really have been ok without it, but man oh man, what a blessing! It means so much to have this family that cares about us, and goes out of their way to make sure there is one less thing we have to worry about while she recovers.


By the way, if you are around Muskegon or the surrounding area on Sunday moning or evening, or Thursday evening stop by and worship with us! We study through the Bible verse-by-verse each week. The pastor is a little off, but we love God anyway.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Just a quickie

Just a quick post about a quote that I was reminded of today.

"Some problems can't be solved by Googling"

I say: Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Not liking Linux right now

OK , I know a lot of people like Linux. In fact, they adore it. And if you have even been on the internet, you've probably seen geeks blog and brag about how great it is. Well, I took on a small project recently that involved Linux. Shorty story - there's good, bad, and ugly. Some of it is self-imposed, but I'm definitely going to write more on this one later...

Monday, January 7, 2008


I am feeling really frustrated right now. I don't usually blog about my personal moods, but this one makes me mad!

I've had a problem lately. I spend too much time on the internet. I've pared down much of the time I spend at home on the internet, but I have a tendency to get on at work for way too long. So today I've been doing better. I limited my time in the morning, and started attacking real work. I spent at least an hour typing out and composing an informational email to be used internally. It was about a topic I know very well, and I really enjoyed it and was proud of it. However, I felt it important to run it by my boss for a second opinion. You never know what the higher-ups do and do not want to tell the lower-downs...

So I gave it to my boss and asked him to look it over for me and suggest any revisions. Well, he did. Basically he recommended taking out about 50% of the useful content. I really didn't want to do that, so I talked with him about it for 5-10 minutes. He finally allowed me to at least keep the content in the email (even if he didn't see my point), but he wanted me to basically take this informational email and make it a sales pitch. I wrote the article as an informative piece to people who are fairly intelligent. I think my boss basically wants me to dumb it down and advertise to the audience instead.

It FRUSTRATES ME SO MUCH!!!! Ahh. now that I got that out of my system.

The problem really comes in when I first seek the kingdom of heaven. The Bible tells us to submit to all authority, and as I write this, I have referenced the verses that really bring that home. Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. It is kind of amazing how I get so worked up about this, and 3 minutes in the word can bring such peace over me. It's not about my boss and me. It's about God. My whole life has to be about God. There is too much at stake, to be wrong.

The part I really struggle with is that I doubt the competence of my boss. He is new to the company, and he hasn't shown himself to be the most knowledgeable source on...well, many things. Nonetheless, I view him as an authority. And shouldn't Christians be The Best workers, because we are working for Christ? Part of that would be listening to your boss.

Well, I certainly feel convicted about this, and I need to talk this over with my boss again. I usually find that when I calm down and communicate with people, things go more smoothly. Chances are, he just didn't understand my motivation behind this, and my overall goal of better communication. And I'm sure that I overreacted because this project was my kid, and he called my kid ugly. Maybe I should detach a little, huh? In any case, I will update when I have a bit more to update.

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Post and Event about Dave Ramsey at Upcoming

ADD is a terrible thing, but then again, it's probably a terrible thing to waste :)

While consuming a massive amount of information this morning (courtesy of bloggers everywhere) I ran across a website called Upcoming. It turns out it is actually a Yahoo website that gives information about upcoming events in any given area, or events on a certain person's calendar. So I pulled up my area to see if the upcoming Dave Ramsey event in Grand Rapids was listed. It Was!

Problem was, it wasn't submitted by a user, and as a result, the info was pretty basic and bland. So I improved upon it. See they let you add a comment to the event, and even register yourself as going to it. So I registered to it and left a comment. Hopefully it helps people get some more info about it and REALLY consider going.

I don't over exaggerate when I say that the principles Dave teaches have changed my life so far, and I'm only three months into it.
I've gone from living paycheck to paycheck, to at least having some money saved, and beginning to pay off debt. No really, my wife and I are actually PAYING for the things WE BOUGHT! I know, I know, it sounds crazy. Why actually pay off your credit cards and furniture loans, and car loans, and house? I mean, as long as you are making the payments, you're fine, right? WRONG!

We actually have a goal with our finances now. Being Debt-Free changes a person. You can hear it when people call into his show and SCREAM that they are DEBT-FREE!!!!!! I can't wait to do that myself. Even Dave's first rule - make a budget - has had a tremendous impact on our finances. It is literally like getting a raise. And it makes you feel in control of your money. I don't have to wonder at the end of the month where all of my money went, because before the month began, I told my money where it was going. And now my wife and I feel better about our money. But not only our money, our life. When you take the stresses of money struggles out of the picture, you begin to feel different, more in control. I can't even explain it all in text, I almost have to speak it to you to truly bring it home.

Are you struggling with debt and paying the bills? Are you debt-free? Do you just want to hear more about this? Make a comment on this post. Let's have a discussion about it.